What’s ailing Dice-K?


A month ago, Daisuke Matsuzaka was the leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year, but his recent struggles are making people rethink that position. Two days ago, Matsuzaka failed to go even three innings, as the Orioles scored seven runs in a crazy third inning meltdown that saw Dice-K walk in two runs with the bases loaded, and give up a grand slam to little known third baseman Scott Moore. This was the latest in a string of bad outings for the first-year player from Japan, who has gone 1-4 in his last five starts with a 9.57 ERA. He’s given up 32 hits during that time, 6 of them longballs. Something is definitely wrong with Dice-K.

Here’s what people are saying:

Matsuzaka:

“I think fatigue is really a factor for everybody… I can’t really use fatigue as an excuse for myself.”

“It comes down to my inability to throw strikes tonight and being unable to throw strikes didn’t even give [Jason] Varitek a chance to really call the game.”

“Right now, it’s sort of a testing time period where I need to be patient where, at the same time, I’m the one guy dragging on this team, for that I feel very apologetic.”

Manager Terry Francona:

“The command of his fastball just kind of abandoned him… The velocity was not an issue.”

“Nobody second-guesses his will or his effort.”

“Obviously his command wasn’t there. I just think sometimes as the game heats up, pitchers have to throttle back. That’s not always the easiest thing to do.”

“I think he feels a tremendous responsibility to carry his share… Sometimes you go through rough times. We need to make sure we help him. Coaching or managing in Boston is different than somewhere else. It’s not just all about X’s and O’s. We can help with all that stuff, and we do, but there’s other things on the periphery. Part of our responsibility is to help make it easier for him to succeed.

Pitching coach John Farrell:

“When he’s in a big inning, he has a tendency to rely on his fastball and generate as much power as possible and, with that, he’s sacrificing location… He’s somewhat gone away from his offspeed pitch and hitters have had a chance to look in hard and not have to guard too much against anything soft.”

“I don’t think it’s a physical thing… That’s indicated by the stuff he was throwing tonight. I thought he was strong tonight, but I think he relied a little bit too much on just throwing the ball, rather than pitching and hitting his spots and changing speeds.”

Lots of analysts are theorizing that Matsuzaka’s hit a wall, and that seems reasonable, though Dice-K himself strongly denies it. But it seems that Dice-K’s competitive nature is getting the best of him recently, just as it did Josh Beckett last year. Let’s hope he calms down by the playoffs, because we need the pitcher we saw in June in that rotation come October.

I don’t think Matsuzaka’s out of the race for RoY, by the way. He leads all rookies with 14 wins, and though his ERA is at 4.44, it’s jumped nearly a run in one month. If he has a couple of very good starts, his name could become very prominent very quickly. Let’s hope this last start was enough to shake him up. He’ll need to adjust fast, though, with the Yankees waiting in the wings next.

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3 Responses to What’s ailing Dice-K?

  1. Pat says:

    Could this mean Buchholz starting post season?

    and I don’t know about you, but I’m STILL worried about the yankees.

  2. bleedred says:

    Pedroia is my ROY winner. No contest.

    As the season gets closer to the end I’ll have my votes for all the awards. Hopefully by then Wang won’t have the win lead with Beckett.

    As for D-Mat, we will see if it is really fatigue. His next start is on 6 days rest, his normal rest. Then again, its the Yankees. If he can step up there, I expect he will be okay, espetially with the off days giving him at least 5 days rest for the remainder of the regular season, and probably some extra rest before the postseason.

  3. donchoi says:

    As intriguing as Buccholz could be as a postseason starter, the Red Sox have made it pretty clear that they’re going to protect that golden arm. Theo nearly had a heart attack as Clay got up near 120 pitches in the no-hitter, and Buchholz is pretty much scraping his innings ceiling for the year. They won’t start him, sorry. If we lose one of our front four, it’ll be Lester in the playoffs.

    Pedroia is my front-runner as well, I’m just saying that it could have been very different if not for Dice-K’s August/September “slump”.

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